Alumni Spotlight: Elijah Carrier, Manager of Transformation Operations for Ginkgo Bioworks
Elijah Carrier, BS ’13, is now the Manager of Transformation Operations for a bioengineering company called Ginkgo Bioworks in the Seaport District.
Finding the Right Major
Carrier’s path to his career was a circuitous one — he started his degree at MCPHS as a student in the Bachelor of Science in Premedical Health Studies — Physician Assistant Studies Pathway.
“I was originally in the Pre-PA track and I was looking around different universities for that biology/pre-med track and during my first year, I took some lab courses and got to do things with my hands and I realized that was something that I was more interested in,” he says.
During his second year, he switched his major to the Bachelor of Science in Medical and Molecular Biology program where he spent his time working under the tutelage of Joseph DeMasi, PhD, Chair of the Department of Math & Natural Sciences and Professor of Biology and Janet Hart, PhD, Founding Director, Faculty Mentoring Institute and Professor of Biology at MCPHS.
“They were fantastic and they put me in a good direction in general with building up a lot of my skills. They also helped me get a few internships so coming into the workforce with a few undergraduate internships is pretty invaluable in the job market,” he says.
Carrier was attracted to MCPHS because he wanted to stay local to the Boston area and wanted a small school.
“I wasn’t interested in going to UMass or BU or any of the bigger schools, I’ve always been someone that appreciates the touch that a smaller school like MCPHS has — especially with the relationships with professors or other students. My graduating class for my program had less than 10 people so I knew everybody which is really great,” he says.
One of his favorite memories in school was a lesson in science communication when the class was asked to explain different scientific terminology such as the word “gene therapy” to an elementary aged child. As an MCPHS student, he was surrounded by students in other health science disciplines which enabled him to get a good feel for the different sciences.
“I took a lot of classes with Chem majors and PharmD majors so I was able to get different perspectives on things and also build those relationships,” he says.
Now as an alumnus, he says that he still runs into his MCPHS connections and is happy at how interconnected the health science field can be.
“Whenever I bump into someone that I knew very closely or from afar, there’s definitely that alumni recognition,” he says.
After graduation, he worked as an undergraduate research assistant in Harvard Medical School in the Howley lab before finding a position as a contractor for the Food and Drug Administration.
“At that point I had micro experience, molecular biology academic experience, but I wanted to do more than an entry-level lab tech role,” he explains.
Through colleagues that he met at the FDA, he joined a biotech start-up focusing on rapid detection of food borne pathogens using a novel bacteriophage based technology.
“I learned about manufacturing and design because it was such a small start-up so I was able to do research and work on other things that were not strict research,” he says.
After that company was bought out, he joined Ginkgo Bioworks in 2018 where he has held multiple roles and is now in a managerial role.
Advice to MCPHS Students
As a hiring manager for Ginkgo Bioworks, he is always looking for new talent to join the company. His advice to MCPHS students who are looking to join the job market is to get as many internships and real-world job experience as possible.
“Internships are something that I look for in the CVs of the people that apply these days,” he says.
Carrier is part of the MCPHS Alumni/Student Network and enjoys speaking to MCPHS students to give career advice.
“I’m excited to give back to MCPHS if I can,” he says.
The Bachelor of Science in Medical and Molecular Biology program at MCPHS–Boston paves the way for students to pursue medical research, attend medical school, or enroll in a variety of graduate degree programs in the health sciences.